As much as I love going to winter race fixtures – wrapped up warm with a piping hot flask of coffee in hand – May and June are when I’m most likely to have a day out with friends at one of the many brilliant northern racecourses.
Hexham is my ‘local’, so that’s the odds-on favourite for a visit, but Newcastle, Catterick, Thirsk and York are all within an easy drive and Ayr and Musselburgh just a stretch further. With so many top jockeys and trainers having northern roots, it’s not surprising that Highclere Thoroughbred Racing has now launched a dedicated Northern Division.
Initially comprised of three syndicates, the Northern Division reflects the wealth of horse racing talent in the North of England and is run by Jason Fildes, who has joined Highclere’s management team following four years as General Manager of Haydock Park Racecourse. Jason brings with him an in-depth knowledge of racing along with over 25 years’ business management experience in Lancashire (Jason founded Barden Mill, now Pendle Village Mill,
The three syndicates under Jason’s management are named after celebrated northern artists – George Stubbs Syndicate, David Hockney Syndicate and Antony Gormley Syndicate – and will be placed under the stewardship of three hugely successful trainers. Mark Johnston, Britain’s most victorious trainer of all time, fellow Yorkshire-based trainer and multiple Group 1 winner, Richard Fahey, and Tom Dascombe, who also trains for ex-footballer and England star, Michael Owen.
The beauty of Highclere is that it is a syndicate that wins with horses that are, by any measure, up there with the best. Their formula is simple: buy top class horses, train them well, ride them well and look after your owners.
So if you’ve been bitten by the racing bug and quite fancy the idea of being an owner, then Highclere is a superb way to experience racing at the highest level.
SUMMER FITNESS ESSENTIAL >>
I wouldn’t be without the support I get from County Durham Equine Massage and Clair Woff. Oli and Strider both get regular massages from Clair – they love it and it really helps to keep them fit and supple.
I asked Clair how she first got into her work…
“I was a competition groom for 12 years, and became fascinated with biomechanics. Then I worked at the Yorkshire Equine Clinic, rehabilitating horses post-op and injury. I wanted to be able to have a bigger impact than just focusing on the horses’ back/spine, so I trained in human sports massage and then equine, which covers the whole horse.”
What do you love about your job?
“I love having a positive impact on horses and their owners’ lives.”
Anything you hate?
“Petrol station sandwiches! I’m always out on the road.”
And your three top tips for keeping your horse in tip-top condition?
“There’s no substitute for a good warm up/down, appropriate diet, and lots of kindness.”
Clair can be contacted on: 07795 363627
WHAT’S NEW? >>
Another new arrival in the North East is the fabulous indoor arena at Marwood Equestrian Centre, based in the beautiful surroundings of the Pennines, near Barnard Castle.
Marwood is owned and managed by Sarah Tubbs, who is a hugely popular and well-regarded British Showjumping Coach. I’ve trained with Sarah for a couple of years now and it has made such a difference to be able to train indoors during the winter months.
The new arena was part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development through the Rural Payments Agency, and is a stunning construction designed by Graham Heath Equestrian Structures.
Now I just need to make all of that winter training translate into lots of big bright rosettes!
If you want to book a session with Sarah, please contact her on: 07886 485201